Welcome to part 2 of “The Making of an Audiobook” where I’ve been sharing about the production of This Quiet Sky, into audio. If you missed part one , you can read about the early process here!
As you may have learned earlier, I’m using a great program called ACX that connects narrators and rights holders to produce audio books. That’s how I found my narrator, Gail!
Gail Shalan is an actress, puppeteer and voice-over artist from MA. It’s been an absolute joy to have her as the narrator and producer for the audio version of This Quiet Sky. Every bit of her heart, talent and enthusiasm that she’s poured into this project has been such a blessing.
Once Gail and I agreed that this was something we wanted to collaborate on, we began to discuss the different elements of the story as well as arrange a production schedule. She read the manuscript in it’s entirety and around this time, she also asked about dialects and any specific elements that I had in mind for these characters. For Gail, this process was all about acting and technique and for me, it was incredibly fascinating. It was the first time I ever really had to put distinct thought to what my characters might sound like. Gail sent over this snap shot of her notes from those conversations:
An element of this involved us chatting about actors and dialect styles from different Appalachia-based films, particularly, male leads. That way Gail could have a strong vision for Tucker’s dialogue, the hero of the story. In hunting for examples, we bounced around performances like Jude Law as Inman and Shia Labeouf as Jack Bondurant* and we finally landed on the kind of sound we thought Tucker would have. This was a fun process!
Along it all, there has been a lot of back and forth communication, for which I am so grateful. I’ve been more involved with this process than I ever imagined. It turns out that, technically, I’m the ‘director’, which was kind of a weird thought at first. But with Gail being so amiable and professional about the whole process, the more I got into the swing of it. I have been able to share ideas and intricacies kind of like a director would, I suppose. Though I’ve never thrown my clipboard or said anything cool like “It’s a wrap!” (oh, wait… I’m getting to that part 😉 )
In the Studio:
Through it all, Gail worked her narrating and editing magic and expertly had chapters polished and submitted. When new files arrived, I got to plug in my headphones and give a listen. As an author, there’s something very magical about hearing your own story come to life. It was a process that never got old.
One of my favorite parts about this part was getting emails from Gail, letting me know when she had uploaded another chapter. I would listen, make notes, gush thoroughly on the awesomeness of her performances on these scenes and things steadily moved forward. What really showed through in each of the sections, and in our own correspondence behind-the-scenes, was how much she got this story–how much she truly understood Sarah and Tucker and their tale.
As I listened to her read I laughed, I smiled, I cried.
Writing is an incredibly solitary process. So is, I’ve since learned, recorded narration. Which meant that being able to team up with a producer in this manner, often had me forgetting that I was the sole author of the book. Suddenly, someone else was bringing my words to life in a way that I never could. As the production continued, I kept thinking it was our story because in many ways, it became that. I really believe that’s what is at the heart of what made this experience so special.
It’s a wrap!
Whether you read it…or listen to it… I so hope that you enjoy the story!
If you have any questions about the making-of or about the different audio formats and how they work, Gail and I would love to chat with you in the comments below!
*these films are mentioned only for the purpose of dialect.